Why do Western leaders defend Islam?

The West's Fear of Islam - The Demise of an Enemy

Status: 08/29/19 3:34 p.m.

When the head of the CDU economic wing Carsten Linnemann publishes a book entitled "Political Islam does not belong to Germany", when SPD member Thilo Sarrazin interprets the Koran under the title "Hostile Takeover" and when Germany's new Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer , Chairwoman of the CDU, explains during her first trip to the Orient why tornado reconnaissance planes of the German armed forces prevent the caliphate of the "Islamic State" (IS) from raising its ugly head again, then one suspects: we have reached the bottom.

We're scratching the last crumbs of what is already a rather firmly clumped sediment. The talk of the Islamic danger, the Islamic challenge, the Islamic threat has been exhausted. It was cultivated in the west for 30 or 40 years. In recent times, German politics has created hundreds of posts in the police and secret services for the observation and persecution of political Islam. But in the meantime it seems to be dawning on the wiser: Islam is no longer suitable as an enemy.

This trend has something to do with reality. Political Islam has lost its inner credibility, regardless of its appearance.

The failure of political Islam

The authoritarian regime of the Islamist Erdoğan is shaking, Turkey is a weaker state today than it was ten or fifteen years ago, when Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was "only" a democratically elected prime minister and was able to present Islam as a source of inspiration for modern governance. The radiance of the time of departure has faded.

The Sunni Muslim Brotherhood could not take power anywhere, except for the brief interlude of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. The fact that he fainted and died as a defendant in a court case has some symbolic power.

The heir to the throne of the "Guardian of the Holy Places" of Islam, Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, is a cowardly murderer exposed before the whole world.

The "IS" caliphate has perished, has disappeared from the map. Who would have thought? The name "IS" was never mentioned less than a dozen times on talk shows in 2015. That sounded, coming from the mouths of academic and non-academic experts, like durability, like persistent challenge. The talk was ashes. Even criminal organizations, if they want to last longer, must adhere to certain rules in their internal relationships and in the forms of provocation against the general social norm. This is an ancient insight that can also be found in the Jewish-Arab philosopher Bahya ibn Paquda, who lived in Saragossa in the 11th century.

Fragile existence

Al-Qaeda and its competitor "IS" are continuing their existence in the supra-national underground, this should not be denied. But it is fragile, and the competitive relationship between the two groups, which are fighting for leadership in the violent spectrum of Islamism, is now bearing bizarre flowers.

In Yemen, Al-Qaeda snatched an unpublished propaganda video from its competitor that had crashed and used it publicly to expose it. We are right in the middle of the satire that the British film "Four Lions" presented as a suitable form of representation for the Islamic danger as early as 2010, long before the current leadership of the CDU took up the topic seriously and without any black humor .

It is of course an intellectual risk to mention Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed bin Salman and Al-Qaeda in the same breath. It is the risk that warners like to take on political Islam. Their right to exist is linked to this. If you want to be realistic, you have to deal with this construct or - in ultra-modern terms - with this "frame".

The French scientist Olivier Roy was perhaps the first to recognize the pitfalls of this approach and the real weaknesses of "political Islam". In 1992 he published the book "L'échec de l'Islam politique" (The failure of political Islam). He warned against explaining modern Islamism, especially its most radical manifestations, solely in terms of Islam. Those who derive the current phenomena primarily from the nature, history and culture of Islam run the risk of constructing something that does not stand up to a realistic and enlightened diagnosis of the present.

Roy showed that contemporary Islamism is a by-product of the globalized world, its iron belief in progress and its forms of communication. These forms and thought patterns are so formative that Islamism should be understood more as a reflection of modernity (or postmodernism) than as a new edition of the classic, original Islam. If you just believe everything that the Islamists say of yourself, you are making it too easy for yourself. Olivier Roy has experienced a lot of contradiction. On September 11, 2001, the proof of the Islamic threat and its paramount importance appeared to have been provided.

But what has happened since then? Wars were waged to stamp out this threat. One military intervention in one Islamic country followed the next. Thanks to the immense resources that were invested in the matter, advances in military technology jumped out, for example the perfecting of remote-controlled drone warfare.

The wiser today, however, agree: progress in the sense of solving a problem has not been achieved. While "resolving" a sub-problem like Usama bin Laden, many new ones were created. How is the situation in Afghanistan today, like in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Syria and Iraq? There seems to be an error in the analysis of the basic problem. Olivier Roy was right from the start.